PREVIEW | What to expect from France at the Women’s World Cup

France qualified for the tournament as group winners, winning all 10 of their matches (among Uefa’s nine group winners only Germany and Italy failed to go undefeated) but since sealing qualification in September, results have been somewhat mixed. With Corinne Diacre still at the helm, they lost friendlies to Sweden and Germany, but have since recovered to beat Norway and win the Tournoi de France.

Diacre was sacked after falling out with several top players and in the two friendlies they have played since, France overwhelmed Colombia and edged past an injury-hit Canada. The new manager, Hervé Renard, will have to contend with several absences through injury, particularly in the team’s forward line, as Delphine Cascarino and Marie-Antoinette Katoto are unavailable. To this end, Renard will rely on the veteran striker Eugénie Le Sommer, the country’s all-time leading scorer, to lead the line and the team’s propensity to play a more flowing style of attacking football may be more limited as a result.

At the back, Wendie Renard will again be vital and with the underrated Juventus goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in goal defence will be one of Les Bleues’ strong suits. With Renard, Le Sommer and several other players in their 30s, the team have been ambitious about exceeding their past performances in the tournament, with Chelsea’s Ève Périsset saying: “It’s up to us to prepare ourselves well to reach our goal, the last four.”

The coach


Hervé Renard replaced the controversial (but relatively successful) Diacre in March, but has yet to put his stamp on the team. Despite having no previous experience in charge of a women’s team, he does have experience at international level and has also overachieved in tournaments at short notice in the past, including winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia in 2012. At international level, Renard has often played a 4-2-3-1, but has also experimented with three at the back. For France, he is likely to opt for the former, but could also play with three in midfield.

Star player

Wendie Renard will have plenty of veterans alongside her in Le Sommer and Amandine Henry, but given they have been out of favour in recent years, Renard will be the linchpin for her country in what could be her final World Cup. Physically imposing and elegant on the ball, her leadership and aerial prowess at set pieces make her important at both ends of the pitch. If France are to reach their aims in this tournament she will be vital.

Rising star

Just 19, Vicki Bècho was quietly impressive for the league champions, Lyon, last season. Her return of two goals and four assists may not catch the eye, but she achieved these numbers in relatively limited minutes. A livewire on the pitch, she is able to operate on either flank or through the middle, using her outstanding technical ability. She is also exceptional in terms of her ability to press and will be an ideal option to disrupt a match late on.

Did you know?


Lyon’s Amel Majri became the first active French international to return to the pitch after becoming a mother. Her daughter, Maryam, has just turned one and she is already a part of the set-up for Les Bleues, having joined the team at their April camp at Clairefontaine.

Standing of women’s football in France?

D1 Arkéma is one of Europe’s top leagues, led by Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain, but with other strong teams as well, including up-and-coming Paris FC. The national team’s matches and the league are broadcast domestically by Canal+, France Télévisions and M6, all national channels.

Realistic aim at the World Cup?

France have reached at least the quarter-finals of the past three World Cups and will aim to get as far in this edition. The veteran players are keenly aware this may be their last chance at silverware, with Le Sommer recently expressing a goal of reaching the last four: “It’s a big goal, and we know it’s going to be difficult, but we have to aim high and have ambitions given the level of our team.”

This article is part of the Guardian’s Women’s World Cup 2023 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between some of the best media organisations from the 32 countries who qualified.

GFFN | Eric Devin

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